The Pharasee NicodemusVolume 3, Number 82
Created Date: June 5, 2014
Posted Date: June 5, 2014
Believe in the Gospel of John; Part 8:
The Pharisee Nicodemus, a Chief Ruler of Israel:
To date we’ve studied 7 instances the Greek word “pisteu’o,” is used in the 1st and 2nd chapters of the Gospel of John (its found a 100 times in John; translated “believe” 99 times and “commit unto” once in the King James Version). As we continue into the 3rd chapter we find “pisteu’o/believe” 8 times, 7 of which were uttered by Jesus Himself after the Pharisee Nicodemus came to Him one night. In order to put Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus into context its necessary to go back to the end of chapter 2, which sets the stage.indicates Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover and many believed in His name when they saw the “miracles” (should be translated “signs”) He did. “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,” . It has already been noted that the Greek word translated “commit” in the phrase “commit himself unto them” is “pisteu’o,” which everywhere else in John’s Gospel is translated “believe.” Jesus did not believe those (or many thereof) who professed belief on His name “for He knew what was in man,” .
The thought that Jesus knew what was in “man” at the end of the 2nd chapter continues in the first verse of chapter 3: “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:”. Jesus was God incarnate; He knew beforehand what Nicodemus believed and why he came to Him, just like He knew Nathaniel and what he was doing before He met him, . The first thing stated about Nicodemus is that he came at night, a. Jesus addresses his night visit: “... and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” b, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” . Did Nicodemus come by night so the general population wouldn’t know he was associating with Jesus? Was he an emissary from the other Jewish rulers? Was he just curious? Jesus knew.
We saw in John 2:23 that many believed in His name because they saw the signs He did. And sure enough the first thing out of Nicodemus’ mouth is “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles (signs) that thou doest, except God be with him.” John 3:2b. People usually believe what they see and so it was with the signs Jesus performed. However, true belief by the Jews in Jesus as their Messiah was more than believing He performed miracles/signs. A few studies ago we observed John’s statement of fact that “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”. This teaches that “belief” in Jesus Christ includes elements of “receiving” and being “born of God.” Jesus didn’t “commit Himself unto” or “believe” in those who said they believed in Him because of the signs He manifested because He knew they had not “received” Him and been “born of God.”
Furthermore, “believing” in the Biblical sense is to have “faith.” And Biblically, “... faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”. Nicodemus and those Jews who said they “believed” in Jesus, did so because they saw the miracles/signs He performed, . But true faith is the substance (support or foundation) of things hoped for, the evidence (or proof) of things not seen. If Nicodemus and those alluded to in John 2:23 - 25 really believed, that is, had true faith, they would have recognized and repented of their sins, been baptized and received Jesus as their Messiah, because they believed Jesus was their Messiah and “hoped for” the promised Kingdom, which they could “not see” because it had not as yet come to fruition, ; . They would have been born of God, repented, been baptized and received Jesus as their Messiah openly, in the light of day before witnesses. But Nicodemus came in the dark so no one could see what he was doing. And when he made the statement that Jesus couldn’t do those signs unless God was with him, did he really believe this or was this merely a ruse to open dialog and find out about Jesus?
Jesus did not respond to Nicodemus by reciting His credentials, i.e., He was the Word of God; He was God incarnate; He was the Son of God as well as the Son of Man. No, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”. (As was pointed out in a previous study, are the only two verses in the King James Version of the NT where the term “born again” is used. The word “again” in the phrase “born again” is translated from the Greek word “an’othen,” (G509) found 13 times in the NT; John 3:3 & 7 being the only two verses in which it’s translated “again.” Elsewhere, “an’othen” is translated “from above” five times; “top” three times; “from the very first” once and “from the beginning” once.) So, “again” should be “from above,” making it consistent with - “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Jesus was telling Nicodemus in John 3:3 “... Except a man be born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God” and the phrase in should be translated “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born from above.”
“Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?”. This reveals he had no idea what Jesus was talking about and Jesus’ response to him is very informative in that He didn’t tell Nicodemus what he needed to do or believe. No, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again (from above). The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” . So, Jesus didn’t tell him how He did the miracles/signs, -- instead He told him a person had to be born from above in order to enter the Kingdom of God, John 3:5, even though Nicodemus hadn’t mentioned anything about the Kingdom of God. Jesus points out that Nicodemus’ reference to entering again his mother’s womb refers to being born of the flesh but Jesus was talking about being born of the Spirit (which is from above), , and that he should not wonder or marvel about being born from above, John 3:7.
After telling Nicodemus not to marvel when He says he must be born from above, John 3:7, Jesus goes on: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”. The Greek word translated “wind” here is “pneuma,” (G4051), found 385 times in the New Testament where it is almost always translated “spirit,” whether the Holy Spirit, man’s spirit or an evil spirit. This is the only time it is translated “wind.” In fact, it is translated Spirit in verses 5, 6 and at the end of verse 8. So, the thought expressed by Jesus in John 3:8 is that the Spirit breathes or blows where it desires or intends or is pleased to blow; it can be discerned but a person cannot determine where it comes from or where it goes; and this is the experience of everyone born of the Spirit (or from above). When Nicodemus asks how these things can be, , Jesus’ question to him, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” b, indicates that Nicodemus should know what He is talking about. After all, Nicodemus was a student of the Old Testament and the prophets recorded therein had foretold the fact that God would at some future time put His Spirit in Israel, as follows:
“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:”. “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” . “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” . “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” . “And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:” .
Nicodemus was like many people today who call themselves Christians because they either came from a Christian family; belong to or go to church regularly; give money to the church; read the Bible; act pretty well and have good manners; have an advanced education, etc., ... but they have not received Christ, they have not been born again. Nicodemus didn’t know what Christ was talking about because he was like Saul of Tarsus and most other Pharisees of his day, he followed the law to the letter and believed he was better than the general population; that is, he was self-righteous and saw no need to have a new spirit planted in him. He overlooked, ignored or did not understand the passages just quoted because he was not born from above. He was not like King David, the former leader of the Jews who also followed the law; but unlike self-righteous Pharisees like Nicodemus, David did it by faith and thus recognized he was a sinner and needed God’s intervention to save him. That is the reason David prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”.